I love movies and when I got the chance to see the AMC Best Picture Showcase this Oscar season, I was thrilled. One of the films that I thought was brilliant and definitely deserved to be in this Best Picture category was Philomena, directed by Stephen Frears, starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan. Apart from the great story, this film also has some amazing landscape shots of Ireland. Ireland is a beautiful country and I am glad we got to see some of that in the film. Before seeing this film, I had no idea what it was about. I had never heard of Philomena or the tragic situation she and countless other young girls went through. I do in fact think this is a subject that should have had more mention and promotion, which is why out of all the films nominated for best picture, this one was my favorite and deserved more in terms of awards.
The film comes full circle. The story starts and ends at the Catholic Convent in Ireland where Philomena’s son was taken from her. With the help of flashbacks and story details from Philomena herself, I felt connected to her character throughout the entire film. I wanted her to find her son so bad at times I forgot I was watching a film and thought what was happening was real. Then I would remember that it is based on a real story and the outcome has indeed occurred already. At the end of the film this feeling took over and I wanted to know more and more about the real life Philomena and her son. I did not see any foreshadowing of the outcome at all. Although the acting is great, the story is amazing in itself and the fact that it is based on a true story is heart wrenching
Judi Dench is an amazing actress portraying the title character, Philomena. Steve Coogan, who is one of the screenplay writers for this incredible true story, is also brilliant as journalist Martin Sixsmith. The way the story is told doesn’t make it overwhelming, although a few tears were shed. The comedic timing of both actors was great to relieve some tension throughout the film. The scene that does this the best is when Martin is researching Philomena’s son’s information at the hotel breakfast buffet. Philomena is having a good time at the omelet and waffle bar. Her genuine thrill over the amount of food you can get is sweet and funny. It is at this moment that Martin finds out the startling truth about Philomena’s son.
I think this film had so many mini stories in it, but the main idea was the search for Philomena’s son. The film did a great job with small lines like, “the evil nuns are still there”, to sort of tell the audience, yes, don’t forget about them even though all this other stuff is happening; again a good attribute to a full circle story. I think the only flaw of this film is the mini story of the girl from Ireland who was with Philomena’s son. Their lives seemed so different from each other, like they did not grow up in the same household. I wondered why it was revealed that Philomena’s son had actually been searching for her as well and why the Irish girl did not search for her real parents, knowing they came from the same place. I guess a minor detail in the grand scheme of things; I mean the film is called Philomena.